Whether looking to make salsa or sauce the steps and ingredients remain the same — its just a matter of how thick or thin you make it. Adjust seasonings (even quantity of ingredients) to suit your personal taste.
It will change the flavor and be runnier (so will require a longer simmer to reduce and thicken), but in a pinch — if necessary — green tomatoes may be used as a substitute in place of their cousin the tomatillos. Omit the 3 Tbsp water and only added if needed to thin after simmering. Use a pan with sides when roasting to prevent run off of juices and roast separately from other ingredients. Otherwise, follow recipe.
However, to remain traditional and authentic try to stick with using tomatillos. It is a cousin to the tomato … but not actually a tomato per se … and there is quite a bit of difference (I think so anyway) in flavor and texture.
I am posting this as I have had it written down since about the age of 12 when learning it to make from a friend’s abuelo (grandmother) so read all the way through to make sure you have all the required ingredients available to make it.
I have had to update it a bit over the years for oven roasting instead of roasting over the open flame of a gas stove top burner as she did — due to the invention and more widespread use of electric stove tops — especially in earthquake and other natural disaster prone regions.
However, I do on occasion roast over freshly lit, flaming wood in the smoker before the wood is moved to the side box. If you have a wood smoker (not a BBQ grill) I highly recommend it for the added layer of flavor. Be sure to add some mesquite wood!
Salsa Verde or Enchilada Verde Sauce
Prepare the following:
10 to 12 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, then cut in half
1 small green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut in half
1 poblano pepper, whole
2 to 4 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 jalpeno pepper, whole
1 yellow onion, quartered
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black or white pepper
1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil
Toss together to coat and place on foil lined baking sheet cut sides down spread so not touching. Place about 4 to 6 inches from broiler element in oven and broil until blackened areas appear.
Using tongs, remove tomatillos and bell peppers; set aside.
Using tongs, turn over remaining items, and broil on opposite side, then remove; set aside.
Check tenderness of the roasted bell peppers and tomatillos. If needed, return to foil covered baking sheet and bake in 400 F degree oven until tender.
Remove seeds from jalapeno and pablano peppers for a milder sauce. For spicier sauce, only remove seeds from the pablano pepper.
It is recommended that you wear disposable kitchen gloves — or otherwise touch absolutely nothing, especially any part of your body, until you have thoroughly washed your hands — soaping well and rinsing well at least twice.
To remove seeds, place a pepper on a disposable paper towel, slice in half, and use knife or spoon to scrape the seeds out onto the paper towel. Immediately rinse knife or spoon to avoid potential accidents (trust me!). Set the pepper halves aside, fold the edges of the paper towel up over the seeds to enclose, then fold several more times and dispose of without touching the seeds. Wash hands as previously instructed.
Process everything in a food processor or blender. For salsa blend less and for a sauce emulsify more — to desired thickness.
Otherwise, chop very finely and mash with a potato masher then a fork — it will take time — to the desired consistency.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet or pot and add mixture from food processor, 2 tsp lime juice, 3 Tbsp water, and if desired 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. If making salsa, you may also whole kernel corn if desired.
Taste test and adjust seasonings as desired — adding small amounts at a time of additional salt, ground pepper, lime juice, cilantro, or even onion and garlic powder. If desired, add 3 to 4 drops at a time of vinegar.
Simmer over medium low to a low medium heat for 20 minutes stirring very frequently.
If too thick, add more water 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp at a time. If too thin, continue to simmer until reduced to desired thickness.
Cool and store in airtight container or jar for up to one week in refrigerator.